Many know turmeric as a culinary ingredient. Its use in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine has more recently spread to modern fusion cookery. Aside from being a prominent coloring and seasoning ingredient in condiments, such as curry powder and mustard, turmeric has been a medicinal mainstay, since very early human history.
Turmeric’s medicinal value arises primarily from the chemical component, curcumin, but it also contains a variety of other proteins, oils, sugars and resins. Turmeric’s usage in Hindu religious practice and spiritually-based medicine is widely known, particularly in India and throughout Asia.
Although not all purported turmeric health benefits are scientific certainties, a multitude of nutritional benefits and medicinal uses make this unique spice a worthwhile dietary addition. Following is a summary of potential benefits derived from turmeric.
1.) Food Value, Plain and Simple
There’s no denying that turmeric is tasty! Its mildly spicy quality make it a great addition to almost any vegetable dish. Aside from curry, turmeric’s unique flavor lends itself particularly well to dishes containing beans, nuts and vegetable mixtures. Meat dishes can also become more flavorful with the addition of turmeric.
According to the USDA’s food rating system, turmeric is one of the world’s healthiest foods. It is low in calories, but has high concentrations of manganese, iron, copper and potassium. It is also a good source of fiber and Vitamin B6. Excellent versatility makes adding turmeric to the diet simple and flavorful.
2.) Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Oxidant Effects
Chronic inflammation is a well-known health detriment, and its use is one of the simple tenants of disease process control. Body toxicity related to inflammation and oxidation is suspected to be a primary culprit in the development of many debilitating health conditions.
These can include arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Aches, pains and swelling in the body are common results of inflammation and oxidation, leading to physical damage and ongoing illness.
Turmeric has been show to both mitigate inflammation and effect oxidation by neutralizing free-radicals, stimulating antioxidant mechanisms and increasing levels of the body’s anti-inflammation chemicals.
3.) Immune System Benefits
Various research studies, including one published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology, indicate that turmeric may strengthen the immune system. It may assist in the production and response of antibodies, but also has potent antimicrobial properties, that have been shown to inhibit the growth of food borne pathogens, fungus and bacteria.
4.) Effects on Cardiovascular Health
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties are beneficial to the heart and circulatory system, since inflammation and oxidation are both primary contributors to cardiac and circulatory health problems. Additionally, Turmeric has been shown to assist in the healthy maintenance of blood vessel linings.
Oxidative stress is a major process by which blood vessel damage occurs. Known as the endothelium, these vessel linings must function adequately, in order to prevent the binding of cholesterol to vessel walls and stave off heart disease.
5.) Brain Function Enhancement and Mood Boosting Properties
Although not well studied, curcumin shows promise in the treatment of depression and lowered risk of brain-related disease, as well as general enhancement of brain functioning. Curcumin has been shown to elevate levels of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), a sort of brain growth hormone. Bestowed with the task of multiplying neurons, BDNF may delay brain aging and stimulate higher brain activity…
And while the connection between curcumin and brain function requires further clinical study and assessment, it has been found to boost the good brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine in animal trials. Curcumin’s effects on the brain may even mimic those of prescription antidepressants.
6.) Cancer Suppression Possibilities
Multiple studies have shown curcumin’s massive potential in the field of cancer treatment. This research shows that curcumin possesses properties that may possibly both prevent and help with cancer. It appears to suppress tumor cell production, while also inhibiting physical mechanisms that contribute to their proliferation.
Individuals should always consult with their primary health care physician before making any decisions. Just because studies have shown it may have some benefit doesn’t mean you should stop conventional treatments.
7.) Treating the Digestive System
Digestive ailments are often difficult to treat with conventional medications, due to lack of tolerance of compromised gastrointestinal systems. Previous treatment is often the culprit in destruction of protective digestive system linings, resulting in treatment tolerance for patients with chronic conditions.
These can include Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis. Less serious digestive issues, such as stomach pain, indigestion or diarrhea also may be responsive to treatment with turmeric.
Evidence suggests that curcumin additionally possesses pain mitigation properties. This feature, combined with its ability to decrease inflammation facilitates healing in the gut and may actually support the growth of naturally occurring probiotics.
The use of turmeric’s pain suppression properties have been applied to a host of conditions whose major characteristics are pain, including headache, joint pain and fibromyalgia.
Turmeric Dosage and Side-Effects
Ingesting less than a teaspoon of turmeric daily can provide potential health benefits, although the compound, curcumin can be found in much higher concentrations in commercial supplements. As with other supplements, carefully reading and following label warnings and instructions is highly recommended.
Turmeric may also be applied topically to help treat itchy skin conditions, or ringworm. Turmeric may be used for lower digestive system treatments after being prepared as an enema, in addition to being orally ingested. Turmeric tea is a popular preparation in some Asian countries and can also provide health benefits.
No drug interactions are currently known to occur with turmeric, but a few possible detrimental health aspects should be noted:
1.) Turmeric may decrease blood sugar levels, so diabetics should use it, or its derivatives with caution and awareness.
2.) Turmeric should not be used by those with liver disease, as it could worsen their condition.
3.) Gallbladder contraction is another potential side-effect of curcumin. Those with gallstones should not ingest turmeric.
4.) Turmeric is a known uterine stimulator and should not be used by pregnant women. Insufficient research exists regarding potential side-effects for nursing mothers, so, as with other unknowns, chances should not be taken.
5.) Children should not be given turmeric, other than as a food ingredient.
6.) Surgical treatment patients should not take turmeric at least two weeks prior to surgery, due to an “anti-platelet effect,” which could cause excessive bleeding.
Piperine, an exractive of black pepper helps facilitate the uptake of curcumin compounds, but also slows down the expulsion of some prescription drugs from the body. Black pepper may assist in the uptake of desirable elements of turmeric, so it may be combined with turmeric in cooking…
However, there is an easier method to make sure the body is able to absorb the proper amount of Turmeric needed for maximum health benefits. I personally take a supplement called Turmeric with BioPerine from Science Natural Supplements. It’s made with BioPerine which is a form of black pepper extract which allows the Turmeric to be absorbed into the body a much faster rate.
I take 2 capsules a day of Turmeric with BioPerine and that’s all. I don’t have to worry about mixing supplements together or adding black pepper into my diet. I like to keep things simple. And of course there are many other brands out in the market, but this is what I personally use everyday. Although any Turmeric supplement which contains black pepper extract should do the trick.
As with most unaltered herbal remedies, the full effects of turmeric may take some time to become evident. Eight weeks is an appropriate time frame for a turmeric trial, to find out if it works for you.